Assistive technology has been around for a long time as I learned when researching the history of this technology. When I think back to when I was in school and assistive technology, I really can not remember seeing a lot of it. I certainly wasn’t offered any alternative technology to use in class. I do remember a few students that were impaired in some way, such as a wheelchair or hearing aid but as for students using assistive technology there were very few if any at all.
When I entered university I did see some students using computers and scribes for their class notes. I also saw EA’s that would work with some students on basic understandings and organization. There were classes that accommodated for students with impaired hearing and professors would share their notes with students that were unable to write.
When I started teaching I was working with students with behavioral challenges. Most of them were not programmed for appropriately in the regular school setting and would act out in class. Many of these students did and do not have learning disabilities but there were many gaps in their learning due to attendance, family, addictions, justice, and behavioral issues. These students generally are not engaged in school and have a very hard time building relationships. When they have exhausted all their options in the regular school system they are referred to my school. It is the job of my school (CAMPS) to build a relationship with the students, find out where they are academically and fill the gaps. They are also referred to any outside agency supports (mental health, addictions, etc.) if needed.
Although many of my students do not have a diagnosis for assistive technology they all benefit from it in some way. I have used Dragon Naturally Speaking, Kurzweil, computers, ipads, TV, audio tapes, fidgets, body breaks including treadmills, elliptical machines, stand-up desks, stairs and a stationary bike. All students have the opportunity to use any assistive technology that they may need. I believe that all students should have access to technology, it is here to stay and students should have knowledge about what is available.
Ted Talk – Technology in the classroom by by Ethan Dickens
I think that some of the limitations of assistive technology are support, training, funding and access to what is available. Another limitation is restricting the use of technology to only students with diagnosis.
Thanks for reading